Your obstacle is a gift…

“Smile at the obstacle, for it is a bridge.”


One of the books that I reread regularly is “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday. I love seeing how people we now hold in high regard had challenges and roadblocks in their lives that would have stopped the average person in their tracks. However, as you read their stories and understand the obstacles they faced, you learn that in many cases, it was the obstacle itself that provided them the opportunity to become the person we now esteem.  

The obstacle you face is the gift; it is the moment of opportunity you have been waiting for. What are you going to do with it?

Are you building on success today?

“Success is a collection of problems solved.”

I. M. Pei

There is nothing quite so refreshing as having a significant problem to solve. There is nothing quite as rewarding as the feeling of having solved that problem.    

Every day is a new opportunity to add to the collection. What problems are you going to solve today?

The only easy day was yesterday…

“There will always be some sort of challenge you must face every day and some may be harder than others. Don’t let any tough day make you feel any weaker because your strength is what brought you to where you are today. You’ve come a long way. Be proud.”

Roger Lee

The Navy Seals have a saying, “the only easy day was yesterday.” It’s amazing how clarifying this simple statement can be when you are facing a challenge. Pause, gather your thoughts, soldier on. Today’s great challenge will be the “easy day” tomorrow…

Build a resilient life by learning to appreciate getting punched in the mouth…

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”

Gever Tulley

Challenges are a gift. Getting knocked down is a benefit. Having difficult problems to solve is an opportunity to come back better and stronger.

It’s not always easy to remember this when you face something you don’t know how you are going to overcome. It can be all too easy to feel sorry for yourself in the face of adversity. But when the time has passed, and you can clearly see the benefits of having been knocked down and how you emerged better and more robust, you can look forward to the next big problem to solve.

Imagine how your life would be if you never faced adversity if there were no difficult problems to solve. You wouldn’t be the person you are today, and you wouldn’t have a strong foundation to build the person you were intended to become.

Embrace the trials and the problems and the challenges. It is only through overcoming that you can truly grow…

man in gray sweater sitting on brown wooden floor
Photo by cottonbro on

Relentless growth…

“Goals live on the other side of obstacles and challenges. Be relentless in pursuit of those goals, especially in the face of obstacles. Along the way, make no excuses and place no blame.”

Ray Bourque

I see relentless growth as having to keys for success. First, if one can set the right goals, then those goals will inspire the effort required to bring them to fruition. Second, living life in an authentic manner without judgement, excuses or blame enables you to learn from failure and achieve those more difficult and inspiring goals. Becoming the person we were meant to be requires both.

A goal that is chosen because it is likely to be free of obstacles or challenges isn’t truly a goal. It is a choice for the easy path, to go along through life simply existing. Goals need to be hard enough, to be inspiring enough, to be powerful enough to stir your soul and make any obstacle or challenge that happens to come up worth the effort to persevere. If you have goals like that, then being relentless is simply a result of the power of a well-crafted goal.

And when you fail, and we all will inevitably fail, be candid and honest with yourself about that failure. Don’t condemn yourself, or others, and don’t justify the failure. Simply look at it through the lens of learning and growth so that the next goal has an even higher likelihood of success.

Success over the long-term requires both of these traits, and they are synergistic. Do your goals measure up? Are you learning from failure? If not, dig deeper…

No pearls here…

“All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them.”

William Halsey

How many times in life have we built up a problem in our minds and then when we finally deal with it find that it wasn’t such a big deal at all? It is amazing how we can create a story in our heads that is so much different than reality.

Sometimes it seems so much easier to just ignore the little things and justify doing so by saying “this isn’t worth the time” or “I’ll deal with it later.” But then the problem just grows as we ignore it. Unfortunately ignored problems we ignore aren’t like the grains of sand that become pearls in an oyster. They are more like a steady leak of water under a house that undermines the foundation over time.

What is a problem or challenge that you have been putting off for another day that could/should be addressed right now? What stops you from dealing with it? Lack of time? Fear of conflict? Worry about upsetting someone? Make a list of the things you know you should deal with, but haven’t. Rank them from easiest to handle to most challenging and then commit to tackle the first one NOW. You might be surprised at how much smaller it is when you deal with it instead of continuing to ignore it.

The biggest danger in ignoring problems isn’t that the problem get larger, it is that apathy can set in and you no longer care about resolving the problem.

Not all easy days…

“Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong.”

Norman Vincent Peale

There is something exciting about having a good problem to solve. The uncertainty and unknown can be unsettling of course but I have found that to be far outweighed by the joy of a good challenge. It is through tackling tough problems that we learn and grow. I don’t want to have an easy life with no problems to solve. That would be boring and unfulfilling. Sure, at times it would be great if things were smooth and easy, but not all the time. I don’t want all easy days, for easy days don’t inspire growth. How about you?

To create lasting change you might have to change your approach…

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” 

Randy Pausch

Have you ever hit the wall? Gone as far as you think you can and then had some obstacle or challenge come up that just stops everything? Running into the wall over and over is frustrating and it is easy to see how some people will just give up. But simply giving up is never the right option.

I will occasionally use a quote more than once and typically it is because of some challenge I am facing (or one I know others are facing) or is because it is particularly resonant with me at a specific time. I used today’s quote previously in October and it is fascinating to look back and reflect on why I chose it then, and what has changed since that time. (previous post here)

Today I choose this quote based on observations around organizational change and how slowly change can manifest. However, my reflections today are that perhaps change is slowed down because I am only leveraging one method to try and influence change. Overcoming challenges means you must be open to thinking different, trying new things, looking at changes in yourself first. The old axiom from Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” applies here. If my only mechanism to drive change is to use the tools I currently possess, then I am limited in my ability to influence change. Growth requires getting new tools and finding new ways to scale the wall.

The brick walls aren’t there to stop you, they might just be there so that you learn new ways to go under, over, around, or through them…

closeup photo of brown brick wall
Photo by ShonEjai on

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